Thursday, 04 Jan, 3.39 am

RS uproar stalls debate on triple talaq Bill

The Triple Talaq Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha without much difficulty, remained stuck in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday as the House failed to take up Opposition motions to refer it to a Select Committee because of furore from Treasury Benches.

The government maintained the Opposition motions from the Congress Party and Trinamul Congress did not follow rules and were therefore invalid. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien ruled the motions were valid, but failed to proceed with voting on the issue, as there was no order.

Kurien said the amendments proposed by the Opposition parties were valid as Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu was informed about the motions well in time. At this, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, supported by major Opposition parties, said "Division, please," urging the Chair to go through the voting. This provoked a sudden furore from the Treasury Benches, which sensed trouble, as the Opposition enjoying majority in the House could have its way on the issue. Kurien had already warned the House that he would adjourn the proceedings, if there was no order, and he adjourned it finally till Thursday. Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad moved the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill for consideration of the House saying there were cases of instant divorce by Muslim men by uttering talaq three times, even after the Supreme Court judgment declaring it illegal. He said the apex court had wanted Parliament to legislate on the issue to end the "unfair practice". Leader of the House Arun Jaitley, who gave arguments why the Opposition motions to send the Bill to a Select Committee were not in order, said the principal Opposition party, the Congress Party had supported the Bill in the Lok Sabha but was opposing it in the Upper House.

After the Bill, making the triple talaq practice a congnisable offence punishable with up to three years' imprisonment, went through easy passage in the Lok Sabha, despite the Congress Party's demand to refer it to a Standing Committee, there was much speculation on the fate the Bill would face in the Upper House. There was worry in the Treasury Benches on the issue as the combined Opposition enjoys a majority in the House. Demanding the reference to a Select Committee, the Opposition maintained that a scrutiny of the Bill by the Committee was necessary as it had not been referred to a Standing Committee, as per the normal practice of referring all major Bills to it. The Opposition parties said the Select Committee would be able to take evidence on the issue from all stakeholders.

Post-lunch, the House had already witnessed a 55-minute adjournment when BSP's Satish Misra, referring to the Maharashtra incidents demanded a discussion on attacks on Dalits in the country. Kurien said the House had to take up a calling attention motion over barrage construction over the Mahanadi. Misra was supported by the Congress and others who said the attacks were planned. After the adjournment, nearly the whole Opposition was exercised over the Dalits issue.